“The Little Red Caboose Behind the Train (III)”


Singer, a railroader, says he's getting old and feeble, and the only friend he has is the caboose (or his watch). He reminisces about working as a brakeman on the L&N and Southern railroads, and ironically wishes his young successors well


This is one of several songs by this name, all set to the tune of "Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane"; you should check out the others as well, as they're sometimes hard to untangle. It should also not be confused with the dance tune "Little Red Caboose," as recorded by Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas.

Paul Warmack copyrighted the lyrics in 1930, but since he copyrighted the well-known music as well, and the Underwood-Harris recording precedes his, his claim is doubtful at best. - PJS

It's worth noting that, of the "Red Caboose" songs, this is the one most directly inspired by "Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane"; not only does it share the tune, but also the plot of an old man looking back. It simply changes an old slave to an old raildoadman. - RBW

Cross references

  • cf. "Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane" (tune) and references there
  • cf. "Little Red Caboose Behind the Train (I), (II), (III), (V)" (tune, structure)


  • Marian Underwood & Sam Harris, "The Little Red Caboose Behind the Train" (Gennett 6155/Champion 15297 [as Clinch Valley Boys]/Challenge 334 [as Borton & Thompson]/Herwin 75549, all 1927)
  • Paul Warmack & his Gully Jumpers, "The Little Red Caboose Behind the Train" (Victor V-40067, 1929; on RRinFS)


  1. Cohen-LSRail, pp. 583-590, "The Little Red Caboose Behind the Train" (3 texts, 1 tune; the short"B" and "C" texts are probably this piece; "A" is "Caboose" (II); also a sheet music cover from a song that is none of these)


Author: unknown (tune by Will S. Hays)
Earliest date: 1927 (recording, Marian Underwood & Sam Harris)